OK, way back in the day there were three very distinct release channels in anime: TV, movies, and direct to video known as Original Animation Video (OAV) or Original Video Animation (OVA) (this has diminished somewhat recently but the distinctions do still exist).
However, unlike Hollywood, direct to video was not an indicator of poor quality.
Far from it.
In terms of animation quality, OAVs tended to sit between TV series (lowest) and movies (highest). However it was in story/plot that OAVs tended to shine.
I'm vastly oversimplifying here but TV series had ratings/executive meddling pressures and movies had box office pressures. Meanwhile OAVs had a little more freedom to produce interesting and or risky storylines. Although sometimes OAVs were used to test the popularity of a story before spinning off into the other release channels (eg Tenchi Muyo, Patlabor).
Other significant OAV series were the original Record of Lodoss Wars, Key the Metal Idol**, Iria: Zeiram the Animation, and Bubblegum Crisis among many others.
Although Vampire Princess Miyu was one of my earliest anime, and one that always intrigues and haunts me, I can't call it my favourite if I use the same criteria as I've been using for favourite TV series and movie.
For that I really have to pick the first season of El Hazard the Magnificent World. This is a show with fabulous world building, interesting characters, a hilariously appropriate*** English language dub that is just pure fun to watch. The artwork, character designs, and animation are excellent and make this the best OAV series of the 90s.
Toss in a great sound track (even if the ending theme is just evil and never to be spoken of again), and you have a show that I do come back to again and again just for fun.
I don't know if later releases included them but the Laser Disc liner notes included hat tips to E. E. "Doc" Smith, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and the Arabian Nights. Mind you, anyone who watches El Hazard will work that out soon enough. :)
One last thing though: stop at the end of the first series. Trust me on this.
*Like, oh, maybe this post for example? :)
**Key the Metal Idol in particular is a real puzzle box of a series that should be watched with a group in small weekly doses so that you can appreciate what is going on (and entertain yourself and your group by indulging in Wild Mass Guessing).
***Even toning Fatora down some was a wise choice. Yes, for those who have only seen the dub, Fatora is worse in the Japanese original.
Day 1 - Very first anime: Robotech, Gall Force, Vampire Princess Miyu
Day 2 - Favourite TV series: Card Captor Sakura
Day 3 - Your anime crush: Oh grow UP already.
Day 4 - Favourite Film: My Neighbour Totoro
Day 5 - Anime character you feel you are most like (or wish you were): Kinoshita (Rocket Girls)
Day 6 - Most annoying anime character: Lynn Minmei
Day 7 - Character you’d most like to slap: Hiyama Hikaru
Day 8 - Most epic scene ever: Launch day - Wings of Honneamise
Day 9 - Saddest anime scene: The passing of the Fortune Twins - Nariya and Eriya
Day 10 - Favourite slice of life anime: ARIA
Day 11 - Favourite mecha series: Patlabor: The Mobile Police
Day 12 - Best instalment of a franchise you don’t like: Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: The War In The Pocket
Day 13 - Worst instalment of a franchise you do like: WXIII: Patlabor the Movie 3
Day 14 - Current (or most recent) anime wallpaper: I think I had a Silent Mobius wallpaper once.
Day 15 - A reality check for a genre you like: Romantic/Heroic Space Pirates
Day 16 - An anime classic that simply doesn’t work for you: Ghost in the Shell (film)
Day 17 - Best Background Music: Silent Mobius 2: The Motion Picture
Day 18 - Best Five-team: Silent Mobius
Day 19 - Change you’d like to make to any one anime: Add an animation budget to Lodoss Wars
Day 20 - Most ambiguous anime character: Reki, Haibane Renmei
Day 21 – Favourite OAV Series - El Hazard the Magnificent World
Day 22 - Animation studio you'd most like to slap.
Day 23 - Anime you think had the best, or most intriguing art
Day 24 - Favorite anime hero or heroine
Day 25 - Best anime villain
Day 26 - Your favorite harem anime
Day 27 - Favorite anime opening theme song
Day 28 - Favorite anime companion/summoned creature
Day 29 - Best Anime Music Video
Day 30 - Favorite anime ending theme
As a question: have people been enjoying this series of posts? I haven't been getting much feedback so it's hard to know otherwise.